Pulled from the past, this is a brilliant exploration of black childhood with profound emotional depth, drawn from the grace...

LITTLE MAN, LITTLE MAN

A STORY OF CHILDHOOD

Back in print after decades, Baldwin’s warmly vernacular tale celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of childhood on a 1970s-era Harlem block rippling with black life.

French artist Cazac’s original vibrant watercolor illustrations are fully restored in this new edition. In a new foreword, Baldwin’s nephew Tejan Karefa-Smart, affectionately known as TJ, informs readers that “Uncle Jimmy” wrote this book to answer his youthful request: “When you gonna write a book about MeeeeEEE?” Thus 4-year-old TJ stands at the center of the story, with 7-year-old WT and 8-year-old Blinky joining him in an eventful day full of music bumping from Mr Man’s basement apartment, playful fits of African strut-dancing, and the occasional neighborly favor. Baldwin adopts an experimental structure, interrupting the present-day account with background scenes of beauty and tragedy, including a cinematic montage that introduces this familial, close-knit Harlem block through the choreography of a fatal police chase. This is offset by joyous moments, such as TJ’s flashback to family breakfasts on Sunday mornings when the little boy feels Mama’s love and hears Daddy’s lessons: “I want you to be proud of your people.” The people, places, and circumstances that TJ and readers encounter are emblematic of many issues children’s literature still struggles to represent today: Alcoholism, drug addiction, economic disparity, street violence, and racism all make appearances in critical yet loving ways. The editors’ introduction and an afterword by Baldwin’s niece Aisha Karefa-Smart further contextualize this new edition.

Pulled from the past, this is a brilliant exploration of black childhood with profound emotional depth, drawn from the grace and struggles of community and reinforcing the truth that no one knows Harlem like Baldwin. (Fiction. 8-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4780-0004-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Duke Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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